NTB-20-JAMES-4 - James: Causes & Cures of Worldliness
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“James: Lesson 4”
Introduction by narrator accompanied by a cappella singing:
THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. Spreading the soul-saving message of Jesus. And now,
“Adulterers and adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the
world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore desires be a friend of the
world has made himself God's enemy,” James 4:4.
Welcome to our final lesson in the book of James. Today we will look
at James chapters 4 and 5. We will think about worldliness and some of its
causes and cures.
What are some of the greatest problems we have in our world today?
Well no doubt, atheism is a serious problem today. Agnosticism and all
these different ideas are huge problems. Liberalism is a big problem today.
What is one the greatest problems we face? Worldliness. Being attached to
this world is a challenge that every Christian must face on a daily basis.
Did you know that James will say most of the problems we have
come from desires that are attached to this a world? Why? Sometimes
Christians have difficulties. Why do Christians fight? Why are there
problems sometimes among God's people? Desires for pleasures and
things of the world.
James 4:1 the Scripture says “Where do wars and fights come from
among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasures? That war
in your members you lust and do not have? You murder and covenant and
you cannot obtain. You fight and you war.”
James clearly identifies that part of the problem with fights and
disagreements sometimes is out of pleasure. Someone may think they
need more things or money. As Christians we need to abstain from fleshly
lust which indeed does wage war against the soul. James will go on to
teach us the very reason we don't get the things we want is because we
don't ask. James says in James 4:2-3 “You do not have because you do
not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss that you may
spend it on your pleasures.” James mentions that sometimes Christians
don't have the things that they think they need number one: because they
don't ask. If we ask, God promises, if we need it, He'll take care of that,
John 14:14, Matthew 11:24. But then other times we don't get the things we
think we need, because we really ask for the wrong reasons. We may ask
for money to spend on our pleasures. That's not what life is about.
One of the major problems is mentioned in James 4:4. “Adulterers
and adulteresses, do you know that friendship with the world is enmity or
division with God? Whoever makes himself a friend to the world has
become God's enemy.” Worldliness and godliness are at odds. They’re
diametrically opposed to each other. Worldliness pulls us away from that
close relationship God wants. Worldliness ties us to the temporary not the
Let’s look to a couple of examples. Mark chapter 10. Automatically, I
think of the rich young ruler. Do you remember him? He comes to Jesus.
‘Good teacher what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus
consequently says, ‘Keep the commandments. Do not murder. Do not
steal. Do not commit adultery.’ That rich young ruler said ‘All these things
I've done from childhood.’ Jesus said, ‘One thing you lack.’ What is it
Lord? ‘Sell what you have. Give to the poor come, and follow me.’ You
know what Mark chapter 10 says? ‘That man went away sorrowful.’ Why?
He had great possessions, worldliness. Jesus said in Matthew 6:24 “Where
your heart is there your treasure be also.” That man's treasure was in his
possessions. He could have given it up. It drove him away from really
Another example of worldliness is found in Luke 12:15-21. The rich
fool had a great crop year. He tore down his barns to build bigger barns. He
said to himself ‘You've got many goods laid up for many years. Eat, drink,
and take it easy, in essence.’ God said ‘You fool this night will your soul be
required of you. Then whose things will those be whom you have
acquired?’ Here's the point: He was rich but not toward God. He was rich in
the wrong things. He wasn't rich in godliness. He wasn't rich in following
Christ in Christian principles. He was rich from the worldly aspect, but he
was broke and poor spiritually. When the curtain fell, it was a sad day in
that man's life. The great thing is I don't have to worry about worldliness
and things of this life, if I'm truly following Christ.
For example Matthew 6:33 tells me “Seek first the kingdom of God.”
God says this, here's God's promise, “All these things will be provided for
you.” What things? Food, shelter, and clothing. God is going to take care of
me and you in this life.
We need the attitude of Paul. In Philippians 1:21 Paul said “For to me
to live is Christ to die is gain.” Paul wasn't attached to this world. It was the
last thing he really had his attachment to. He said it so much so that ‘if I die
that's only a good thing.’ “Don't be unequally yoke together,” the Bible says
“with unbelievers.” “Come out from among them God says,” 2 Corinthians
6:17-18. Do you remember the words of 1 John 2:15-17? “Do not love the
world or the things that are in the world. For all that is in the world lust of
flesh, lust the eyes, the pride of life are not of the Father, but it's of the evil
one. And the world and all that's in it is passing away, but he who does will
of God that's the one who will live forever.” Don't love the world. Don't get
attached to the world. Don't let the world become your main focus, because
this world is temporary.
Why should you not become attached to the world? This world and
everything in it is temporary. It's fleeting, and it's only going to be here a
little while. 2 Peter 3:9-12 says “The earth, the elements, the works, and all
that's in it will one day be burned up.” If this world is going to cease to exist
and that's where my priorities are, one day my priorities are going to cease
to exist as well. I need to make sure that my priorities are on spiritual
things. This is why Paul would say in Colossians 3:1 “If then you were
raised with Christ, seek those things which are above where Christ is.” Let's
put our focus on the spiritual, on the heavenly, and not on this world. Its
entrapments often bog us down. “Lay aside every weight and the sin that
does so easily ensnare us and run with endurance the race that is set
before us,” Hebrews 12:1-2.
Now as we think about James chapter 4 and some of the practical
messages found therein, let's realize part of the reason that our God warns
us about worldliness is because God is a jealous God- jealous for us in a
very good way. Notice James 4:5. “Do you think,” the Scripture says, “in
vain the spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously?” You know one the things
you find in Scripture is that in a good sense, God's jealous for His people.
Exodus 20:5 God says ‘I'm a jealous God. I want you to only put Me first
and foremost in your life.’ As Christians we've got a realize that God deeply
desires for each one of us to live faithful to Him each every day and to not
let anything get in the way of our serving God. This is really where humility
How then do you cure worldliness? Humility, the ability to accept what
God teaches and follow that. Look at James 4:6 and verse number 10. “But
God gives more grace therefore He says, God resists the proud but gives
grace to the humble.” Notice verse 10 “Humble yourselves in the sight of
the Lord and He will lift you up.” If we humble ourself under the mighty
hand of God, Peter said 1 Peter 5:5-6 ‘He'll exalt us in the last day.’
‘Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself
will be exalted.’
Humility is in contrast to pride. Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before
destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Pride is the opposite of
humility. Humility is the ability to recognize: ‘God is God. I'm His creation.
Whatever He says, I need to be humble enough to submit to that. I need to
honor and obey God's will.’ One of the keys to overcoming worldliness is to
have the humility to submit to what God says about worldliness.
Here's a second key. I need to not only have humility; I need to
submit to God. I need to do what He says and resist the devil. Look in your
Bible at James 4:7. The Bible says “Therefore submit to God, resist the
devil and he will flee from you.” Some examples of this are found in
Scripture. Matthew chapter 4 Jesus was tempted with a variety of things
including ‘Everything you see,’ Satan said ‘I'll give you.’ Jesus said “It is
written. It is written. It is written.” He didn’t give in to the temptation. He
knew it was a temptation. He knew it was part of the devil's arsenal. He
knew that that could draw Him away, and He didn't give into it. We need to
have the same attitude and mindset. Let's realize the devil is going to do
his part tempt us. Luke 22:31 Jesus said to Simon, “Simon, Simon Satan
has desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat, but I've prayed for
you.” We need to be sober, wake up, be vigilant, and watch out. “The devil
walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” The devil
has always had that temptation in his arsenal. ‘I'll give you the biggest car.
You can have the biggest house. You can have the nicest bank account. All
these things I'll give you.’ What do I have to do? ‘Fall down and worship
Now nobody's going to willingly say, ‘well I’ll do that if you give it to
me.’ When we start putting those things first, when we start letting the world
and its temptations, attractions, and lust take precedence over God, the
devil has got you right bowed down where he wants you. We’ve got to
make sure that we don't submit to the devil, rather we submit to God and
resist the devil. It’s a true cure for overcoming worldliness.
What else must we do to overcome worldliness? One of the great
keys is you've got to continually draw closer to God. You've got to work on
and grow in one's relationship with God. Look in your Bible at James 4:8.
“Draw near to God,” notice these words, “Draw near to God; He will draw
near to you. Cleanse your hands you sinners. Purify your hearts you double
minded.” How do you overcome problems? Well one of the greatest ways
is to draw closer to God. Who will ascend to the Lord? Who may stand in
His holy temple? He who has clean hands and a pure heart. The one who
draws near to God. ‘We draw near to God in full assurance of faith,’
Hebrews 10:22 and Hebrews 7:19. We need to make sure that we’re
striving every day to grow closer to the Lord, know more, and to study His
Here are the ways you draw near to God. I draw near to God the
more I study His word. “This is the word of God,” 2 Timothy 3:16 “this is the
mind of God and the heart of God revealed in written form.” If I want to
draw near to God, I have to know what the mind and the heart of God says.
Then I draw near to God as well through prayer. “Let us therefore come
boldly to the throne of grace that we may find grace and mercy to help in
time of need.” “Men ought always to pray and never lose heart.” The
Scripture clearly teaches that I can draw closer to God through prayer and
through obedience to His Almighty will in each and every day of my life.
Now we also must realize that in the final day, it is the word of God is
going to judge us and we must submit to that word. I want you to notice
your Bible James 4:12. James says “There is one lawgiver who is able to
save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?” This doesn't mean
that we can't make pronouncements of right and wrong- that the Scripture
doesn't tell us what's right and what's wrong. Rather, he points us to the
fact that on that final day, I need to remember God's going to be my judge.
Jesus said in John 12:48 “He who rejects Me and does not receive My
word has that which judges him. The word that I've spoken will judge him in
the last day. So then each of us shall give an account of himself to God.”
Romans 14:10-12. We will give an account of every deed and action that
we have done, 2 Corinthians 5:10. Yes our God is a God of love and
mercy, but let's also realize it's a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the
living God, Hebrews 10:31. Our God is a consuming fire, Hebrews 12:29.
What should be our attitude and mindset in this life? The Lord's will
needs to come before our own. Let me give an example of that from for the
book of James. James 4:13-16 James says, “Come now you who say
today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there,
buy and sell and make a profit, whereas you do not know will happen
tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little
while then it vanishes away. Instead you ought to say ‘if the Lord will's we
shall live and do this or that.’ But now you boast in your arrogance all such
boasting is evil.”
Here's another cure to the problem of worldliness. It is simply this:
that we have the mindset ‘Whatever the will of the Lord is.’ You've often
heard people say, ‘If the Lord wills.’ That's the attitude- not something
necessarily that you’ve got to mouth, but it's in your hearts and your mind.
Is my mindset and is my life lived in view of ‘If the Lord wills.’ There’s
nothing wrong with buying or selling or making money that is not the
problem. What’s the problem? God wasn’t factored into those plans.
Worldliness was likely at the center of those plans. James says ‘Don't say
to yourself you will do this. Say if the Lord wills.’
Why do we need to say ‘if the Lord wills’? Because life's brief, and it
may not be the Lord's will. James says in James 4:14 “What is your life? It's
but a vapor, here for a little while and then it vanishes away.” We don't
have a promise of tomorrow. We need to make sure that were living and
doing what God wants us to do now.
Not only must we do what God says and not break His commands,
but James is going to teach us that when God tells you something, you
can’t just sit around. That also is a sin. It is the sin of omission. When God
tells us to do something and we do the opposite, we have committed sin
and broken God's law. But when God tells us to do something and we sit
there and do nothing, we've omitted God's will from our life and it too is a
Let me illustrate. Look in James 4:17. James says “To him therefore
to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is a sin.” In the
context this has to do with the Lord's will. James is trying to get Christians
to see you cannot get caught up in the world and not factor in God’s will.
That it is a sin to do that. That applies to multiple areas. If I know as a
Christian that I ought to do good to all men and help the poor and
encourage those who are sick and strive to feed the needy and take care of
those are downtrodden, Galatians 6:10 and James 1:27 – if I know that I
ought to do that and I don't do anything- that's a sin. If I know that I should
spread the gospel and I never say anything about Christ that is sinful. It is
not just breaking the commands of God; it is omitting God's will from my
life. I'll have to give an account for that along with the other things I’ve done
in this life.
In James chapter 5 James gives us some great lessons to live by that
will also help in overcoming worldliness and will create more trust in God
Himself. I want you to notice James 5:9. How do you overcome problems
and complaining and grumbling? Look at the example of the prophets.
James 5:9-11 says this “Do not grumble against one another brethren lest
you be can condemned, behold the judge is standing at the door. My
brethren take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord as an
example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who
endure. You've heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end
intended by the Lord that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”
James here says don't be a complainer. Don't get grumpy. Let's think about
this little bit now. What really do you have to complain about in view of
suffering that occurred among God's people in the past? Think about the
prophets he says. Think about Job. Job faced so much as a case example
that men would serve God for nothing. Job was a man who was upright and
blameless. He was one who feared God and shunned evil, Joe 1:4. Satan
entered into those plans. Job lost his wealth. He lost his health. He lost his
family. Satan is there to tempt him. His wife tells him to curse God and die.
He gets a dreaded disease. What did Job say? “Though He slay me, yet
will I trust Him,” Job 13:15. “I know my Redeemer lives,” Job said. Job was
a great example of one who suffered greatly and trusted in God.
Think of some of the other prophets. Jeremiah was beaten and put in
prison. Ezekiel was laughed at. Mark was taken in captivity. Daniel was
thrown in the lion’s den. Isaiah faced many troubles. What about those
prophets? They suffered far greater than what we've suffered today, and
yet they stand as an example of men who lived apart from the world. They
didn't complain and grumble. They didn’t say ‘Why me? Why is this
happening?’ These are men who still lived life for God and tried to bring
others in line with the will of God each and every day. That's the idea
James is trying to get us at.
We have got to realize that along the way we do have hope. We do
have health, and we do have things to rejoice about. I want to direct your
attention to James 5:13-16. A series of questions and answers now is
going to occur that should encourage the Christian each and every day.
James 5:13 says this “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is
anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let
them call for the elders the church, let them pray over him anointing you in
the name the Lord and the prayer of faith will save the sick. The Lord will
raise him up. If he's committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your
trespasses to one another and pray for one another that you may be
healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man overcomes much.
Friend in the midst of suffering, what do I have? I have direct access
to God. “Men ought always to pray,” Jesus said “and never lose heart,”
Luke 18:1. We have communication with the Father in which the Bible tells
us, we can cast all our cares upon Him. He cares for us, 1 Peter 5:7. What
about the opposite extreme? Here's someone who is suffering. What about
somebody who's cheerful? Praise God he says in essence. Bring honor
and praise the name of God. I don't want you to miss this part. What is it
that saved that man? ‘The prayer of faith will save him.’ Again we’re
pointed toward the power of prayer. What can we do for someone who sick
and disease stricken? We can approach the throne of God for grace and
mercy to help in time of need, Hebrews 4:16.
Then we have this encouragement in James 5:16 “Confess your sins
to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed. The
effective fervent prayer of a righteous man overcomes much.” Look at the
power of prayer! You have got to acknowledge sin, and confess that we
need to pray for one another, and look at the good that can come. “The
effective fervent prayer,” the continual, heartfelt, motivated by a love for
God prayer, “has the power to change things.” The more in this life that we
learn to pray to God, the closer we will draw to Him and the more will be in
line with His will.
Then of course the Christian has responsibility to restore those who
are in error. I want you notice in your Bible James 5:19 following. The
Scripture says “Brethren if anyone among you wonders from the truth and
someone turns them back, let them know that he returns a sinner from the
air of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” As
a child of God, I do want to help others. I do want people to go to heaven. If
I realize somebody's in sin and if someone wonders from the truth, we’ve
got to steer him back. We got to help them try to get back in the right way,
in so doing you can save a soul from spiritual death.
Today we want you to know that it is your eternal soul that we’re
concerned about. We are not concerned about money. We're not
concerned about other things that may be related to this old world. We
want one thing for you today.
We want you to spend eternity in heaven with God apart from one
day the suffering and troubles this world.
Friend are you sure you're ready for that day? If not, won’t you do
that today? Remember our life is a vapor.
Will you hear the word Romans 10:17? Would you have the faith to
believe in Jesus John 8:24? Would you make that great confession Acts
8:37-39? Would you repent of sin in your life Luke 13:3? Would you just as
the apostle Paul did “Arise and be baptized, wash away your sins calling on
the name the Lord,”?
Remember James is all about being doers of the word. Do we have
the faith to take what we've learned and put into action? If so, those are the
people that God is pleased with
Study Questions for: “James: Lesson 4”
1. According to James 4:4, what is friendship with the world?
2. What does it say about people who desire to be the world’s friend in
3. According to James 4:2-3, why do we sometimes not receive the things
we ask for?
4. What did the rich young ruler lack in Mark 10?
5. What was foolish about the rich man in Luke 12:15-21?
6. What does Matthew 6:24 tell us about our “treasure”?
7. According to Matthew 6:33, what shall we do for things to be provided for
8. What does 1 John 2:15-17 say about the world and its desires?
9. What does 2 Peter 3:9-12 say about the world and all that’s in it?
10. According to Colossians 3:1, what should we seek?